Real Madrid was disqualified from the Copa del Rey after fielding an ineligible player in its opening round, a Spanish soccer federation statement said Friday.
The statement said Madrid had fielded an ”improper lineup” in a 3-1 first-leg win over Cadiz on Wednesday and that the two-match series was settled ”in favor of Cadiz.”
Madrid coach Rafa Benitez included Denis Cheryshev in his starting lineup, despite the Russian carrying a one-match suspension in the competition for an accumulation of yellow cards last season, when he played for Villarreal. Cheryshev scored the opening goal before being substituted after halftime when Madrid realized its mistake.
Madrid was also fined 6,000 euros ($6,518). The club can appeal the decision and president Florentino Perez said Friday that he would explore ”every avenue” to try and restore Madrid to the competition.
Perez argued that a sanction against Madrid would be not applicable because Cheryshev had not been personally notified that he was suspended and that nobody — neither the federation nor Villarreal — had informed the club of the situation. Still, the case is another embarrassment for both the club and Benitez, who was already under pressure following a demoralizing 4-0 home loss to archrival Barcelona in the league.
In his ruling, competition judge Francisco Rubio said Cheryshev had been told of his suspension in person and that the notification was recorded on the player’s license. He also said that the suspension had been published by the federation, and that was all that was required.
Cadiz said in a statement that it ”could only regret what had happened,” but said it was happy to abide by the judgment.
Real Madrid have confirmed they will appeal the ruling which eliminated the club from the Copa del Rey, on the grounds that Denis Cheryshev was not told of his suspension.
The Russian scored on Wednesday against Cadiz, but it later emerged that he should not have played due to a ban valid from his time at Villarreal. According to a club statement, however, the Merengue hold that the punishment is incorrect.
“Real Madrid received the competition judge’s resolution at 18:17,” the missive reads. “It is recognized in the resolution that the Spanish Football Federation did not personally notify Cheryshev of his suspension, which is the only way it comes into effect. Real Madrid feel vindicated in their arguments and will present the actions necessary, confident that the final resolution will be in the club’s favor.”
The club now has the option to appeal the ruling to the RFEF’s Competitions Committee. If that motion is unsuccessful, Florentino Perez could take the matter to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
Florentino Perez believes that as neither the player nor the club were informed of the suspension that Real cannot therefore be disqualified from the Copa del Rey.
“The one-match ban for three yellow cards in our view is not effective because no one has notified the player as specified in item 41.2 of the disciplinary code of the RFEF,” Perez told a press conference.
Earlier, Cheryshev confirmed he did not receive notification from his former club that he would be banned. He told his current club’s website, realmadrid.com: “I did not receive any notification from Villarreal to inform me that I had been banned from playing in the Copa del Rey.”
Last season Osasuna were kicked out of the tournament for playing an ineligible player, while Benitez was in charge of Valencia when they were disqualified from the Copa del Rey in 2001 having played too many non-EU players in a tie.